Perhaps one of the largest issues builders and developers are currently dealing with is the recent surge in lumber prices coupled with the scarcity of lumber materials. According to Nasdaq’s lumber report, lumber has increased 87% since the beginning of the year, which is a staggering increase. However, what is more, shocking is that lumber had only risen 1.6% from January 1, 2020, to July 1, 2020, but then jumped 85.4% from July 1 to August 20! The cause is a result of diminished supplies coming out of the mills due to Covid-19 related shutdowns. At the same time, demand has remained high due to strong residential housing and multi-family construction markets.
The magnitude of this pricing increase is putting pressures on margins for contractors, builders, and developers and could cause projects to be deferred or canceled should these increases continue into the 4th Quarter. The question on everyone’s mind... Read More >
Last week I was sitting in a presentation with an experienced developer for a project we will be starting soon. This same developer is currently building a facility in Columbus, Ohio, with an institutional contractor, which is not going well.
Over and over, he said, "how much of a pleasure it is to be working with a developer's contractor." We are one, but sometimes I forget what it means. In this case, the client's architects and engineers completed the drawings and added all kinds of things that were nice, but didn't add value to the project or its future residents. With our experience in senior living, we are able to control cost by weeding out what was not required, and we have the technical expertise to communicate effectively with the design professionals with minimal involvement from the client. But there are other things we do, such as keeping up a... Read More >
When you hear the word exoskeleton you probably start thinking of something out of a sci-fi movie like Alien or Avatar, but they are starting to make a presence in construction. Exoskeletons or exosuits are a wearable technology typically made from metal and other fabrics that attach to the body. They are aimed to help lessen the strain on workers' body allowing them to work quickly and safely while reducing injuries. With the potential to reduce required muscle force by as much as 60%, it’s easy to see what kind of an impact this technology could have on workers by easing the physical demands that come with the job. Currently, there are two (2) main types powered and mechanical (passive), and over five (5) main categories for these power suits: power gloves, arm/shoulder support, back support, standing/crouching support. As this technology continues to evolve it will be interesting to see... Read More >
With a continued labor shortage across the country and no signs of change in the near future, some firms are looking to/have implemented robots into their workforce to help combat this issue. Robots in their present capacity are being used to perform repetitive tasks like laying brick, tying rebar, hanging drywall, etc. They are also performing demolition, 3-D printing, and assisting with lifting activities. In 2018 the construction robotics industry was roughly a $23 million market, however, this market is being forecasted to grow to nearly $226 million by 2025 according to the article by Tractica. Some of the benefits being reported by those utilizing robots are increased speed and efficiency, higher levels of safety, and the ability to integrate with design software such as BIM. As one who has never had robotics performing labor on a construction project, I am looking forward to experiencing it and to what impact... Read More >
Construction is an industry obsessed with productivity - And for good reasons. The more productive our field operations, design teams, and management work is, the faster and less expensive the projects are. Unfortunately, construction has suffered from losses in productivity over the last decade, particularly at the field level. Major trades like framing, drywall, and concrete are slipping several percentage points.
This phenomenon is attributable to many factors, but several key ones include:
- Changes in Scope and/or Project Expansion - No matter how well you plan a project, changes happen - And they slow things down. The Independent Project Analysis Group has estimated by a study that more than 35 percent of all construction projects will incur a major change. They've also concluded that any change puts the project at a 1 in 4 risk of schedule slippage by 20% and a 1 in 4 risk... Read More >
With the number of new senior living communities recently opened or currently under construction, there is a growing need to update and refresh existing facilities to help improve their viability in the marketplace.
As new senior housing communities, with all of the latest amenities and design trends, are coming online, older facilities need to position themselves as the better local option. The appearance and freshness of a community can have a significant impact on many aspects of a business. Having an attractive, appealing, and comfortable community can improve resident’s happiness and well-being, increase staff morale, and create a more positive public opinion, all which lead to increased occupancy and better financial performance of the community.
Investing in a renovation project can be a challenging process that can seem overwhelming and complicated. The Douglas Company team has experience in planning and executing renovation projects. We know and understand the unique requirements that skilled... Read More >
As the baby boomer generation begins turning 70, senior living providers will have tremendous opportunities. At the same time, they will face the challenge of reinventing their business and providing innovative solutions to meet the needs and demands of this new generation.
Today’s seniors are looking for options that deliver the comforts and amenities of home. This trend is changing the design and construction of senior living communities. Designers are incorporating more residential design elements and finishes into new buildings, resulting in vibrant and comfortable spaces that are very inviting for residents. The buildings being designed and constructed today are not your father’s senior living facility.
By involving a general contractor very early in the planning process, working collaboratively with the design team, an owner can understand costs, lead times and constructability of various design components, and have the ability to make timely decisions. The general contractor can also provide potential alternative options... Read More >
In the spirit of being a consultant I wanted to discuss a topic that we have seen create frustration and cost money for some developers. Bidding Budgets; or “bidgeting” as we have heard it called. It is when early drawings are put out to multiple General Contractors for the purpose of obtaining their budget estimate which will be utilized to select the contractor for the job. In the beginning, the intent may have been to go with the best OVERALL choice, but in the end, the contractor with the lowest budget estimate is selected to work with going forward. This is not working on a negotiated basis, this is bidding budgets.
There are inherent risks to this process and at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily provide you with the best price solution (one of our brand promises by the way) that you were looking to move forward within... Read More >
The management of construction projects has become more difficult in the last several years due to the following key factors:
- Not having adequate, properly trained, manpower available
- Subcontractors not managing their own work
- Higher project finish levels
- Quality and coordination of the design documents
- Increased levels of local and state inspections
- Construction material lead times
All of these factors can contribute to project delays if not addressed by the project team through proactive leadership. The only way proactive leadership can have a positive impact on a project is by the project team following processes on a daily basis to help prevent daily emergencies from impacting and delaying projects. The second most important aspect of proactive leadership is increased communication by the project leaders to help create accountability throughout the project team.
Without a clear path to follow when it comes to managing projects, the task of achieving the desired objectives would prove... Read More >
Recently I read an article by Dodge Data & Analytics regarding the expected rise in green construction globally. According to the article, over half of the 2,000 respondents in The World Green Building Trends 2018 report expect to see 60% of the projects across the globe to be green by 2021. In the US, it is expected to increase from 32% to 45% by 2021.
Some of the reasons for the increase include increased client demands, improving environmental regulations, and healthier buildings for residents. With the expected increase in green construction, interestingly the percentages of projects that get certified are not expected to increase.
Within The Douglas Company’s portfolio, we have built one LEED Silver Certified project, the Department of Veteran Affairs in Fayetteville, NC, and two other Department of Veteran Affairs in Toledo, OH, and Rochester, NY are LEED Silver Equivalent.
Our experience with LEED projects allows The Douglas Company to implement the... Read More >
But what does that mean? It means quite simply that we exclusively work with developers. We do not bid government projects or work with large corporations, retailers, etc. We work with developers to assist them in making their vision become a reality.
Being a developer’s contractor means we have the experience, knowledge, and personnel to get involved early in projects and work on a collaborative basis with the design team and owners. Not everyone plays well with others but when you do it on a regular basis in the conceptual stages like we do, you get good at it and see the positive results it brings to a project and all involved.
If you want a general contractor to sit on the sidelines while drawings are completed and then bid on that final set of drawings you are missing out on a very beneficial strategy to save time (which is, of course,... Read More >
As everyone knows, there is a lot of controversy regarding trade and tariffs. It is impacting the stock markets both domestically and internationally, and dramatically. Recently I have been hearing of subcontractors qualifying their bids in our Florida market for the impact of tariffs, so I decided to do some research to find out what people, including the press, are saying about the impact. In the past year or two, tariffs have been imposed on Canadian lumber, which did affect that pricing. This past summer, tariffs were rendered on Chinese steel, which had a dramatic effect on those prices. The steel increases are interesting, since less than 1% of our domestic steel comes from China, and in fact, we export more steel to China than we import.
But that is in the past. The question has to be, what can we anticipate coming up in the future, and should I be... Read More >
As one of The Douglas Company’s core values, “Peace of Mind” is something that we take very seriously. One of the key components to delivering “Peace of Mind” is timely and effective communication to ensure that clients are not surprised by unexpected events, delays or issues during their project.
While we cannot prevent unexpected events, clients hire The Douglas Company for our ability to foresee potential challenges to their project, keep them informed, and offer a solution to deal with situations before they become a surprise. Many times these are not easy conversations to have with clients, but they are crucial.
Part of The Douglas Company’s on-going training and development program, all of our Project Managers, Assistant Project Managers, Superintendents, Estimating Staff, Business Development and Senior Management will be participating in a 3-hour seminar focused on “Building Better Customer Communication”. Individually and collectively, all of us are committed to enhancing our communication... Read More >
The project schedule is a given for any construction project. For the project team, particularly the Project Manager, it is the most important tool in setting priorities for the team. For all other stakeholders in the project, it can be an incredibly useful tool as well. In order to take advantage of this however, there are a few important concepts to understand and to ask your contractor about regularly:
- Progressive Elaboration - This is a concept that many schedules take advantage of, it involves bringing additional detail into the project schedule as it becomes available; typically as the team comes closer to performing the work. For instance, it is not reasonable to expect a project team to have a detailed breakdown and sequence assigned to the finishes portion of the schedule at ground break, but that portion of the schedule should look much different when you're wrapping up drywall work.
... Read More >
The conversation around the use of technology in construction management has changed dramatically it tone and frequency over the last several years. At least, that's the way it seems; but what do the numbers say about this?
Turns out, it's not just a feeling. From 2011 to 2017 McKinsey measured $10 billion in investment in construction technology (stylized as "Con-tech") firms, and separately JLL measured already $1 billion in the first half of 2018 alone. Those numbers aren't surprising when at last count Skanska USA determined there were over 2,100 individual companies looking to take up some of the space that opened up in what was a pretty uninteresting sector for so many years. So con-tech is definitely on the rise - but why?
Well, it's no secret that the construction industry is suffering from and diminishing workforce and rampant issues meeting schedules. We have a productivity problem. It isn't getting better... Read More >
Since our founding in 1976, The Douglas Company has focused on building senior living and multi-family projects for owners and developers who depend on us to control the risks and costs of the many facets of development. During that time we have developed comprehensive processes for nearly everything we do.
From preconstruction, project start, through construction, project completion and warranty, we have 68 detailed and documented processes in place that are followed, tracked and reported on consistently. Additionally, we are continuously training our staff on these processes to assure consistency in the delivery of quality products. These proven processes, and The Douglas Company’s discipline in following them is a true competitive advantage and provides our clients with the added value they deserve and expect from The Douglas Company.
Earlier this year, we decided it was time to “brand” our processes to help our clients better understand how The Douglas Company will fulfill... Read More >
Developers want to bring the best product to the market that they can and do it in the most economical fashion that they can. Understandably so. That makes for a successful project, after all. Many pieces are important to the development team which can sometimes be a puzzle to put together.
Especially important is the selection of a General Contractor. There are of course multiple General Contractors that can help you build buildings. The Douglas Company strives to be more than just a General Contractor because those can come and go. We strive to be your business partner, contributing to your success by helping to create beautiful communities for people to call home.
We enjoy nothing more than bringing our 42 years of experience to the table early in your project. We can help work through initial budget estimates with our extensive experience in the senior living, multi-family and hospitality space. When... Read More >
The baby boomers, the massive increase in births that occurred between 1945 and 1964, started turning 65 in 2011. The population of people over 65 stood at just over 41 million people in 2011. With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 each day, the over-65 population is projected to grow to over 85 million by 2050.
The baby boomers have shaped the housing market for many years, and as baby boomers approach retirement, there is no doubt, they will shape the senior housing market for years into the future. Market studies indicate that as baby boomer age, they want to maintain an active lifestyle either within their own community, or a community near their adult children. While many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, a higher percentage of the baby boomer generation, compared to the previous generation, desire an easier “carefree” lifestyle.
Senior (age restricted) apartment communities, villas,... Read More >
The title of Project Manager gets thrown around a lot today in our industry, and many others. Since the generally-accepted definition of a project is "A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result", that's understandable. This broad-reaching definition written by the Project Management Institute can define a lot of different undertakings in so many industries, and since every project must have someone in charge, the title Project Manager is easy to assign. In some cases even, it's a de-facto title that someone assumes by accident or default in an organization, perhaps even on top of a functional role they already play within a company.
In the construction industry, however, this is not a title that is taken lightly - nor should it be. A construction Project Manager is a specialized individual that takes the title through purposeful education and training, deliberate and hard work, and only after... Read More >
There is a large need in the senior housing market to develop and build affordable communities. The current economy mandates, due to higher interest rates and high construction costs, the need to design and develop senior facilities that produce better, not bigger, designs. The best senior community operators are looking at downsizing all of their new senior properties to respond to the current market conditions and to increase competition in most markets.
As many young Americans are attracted to micro-units, so too will seniors. The key to having an affordable design that will compete in the market is controlling the square footage of the living units, and the common space, while still providing top tier amenities.
The Douglas Company is working on developing a prototype design for an assisted living and memory care communities that controls the square footage of the entire building footprint, but still provides a design that feels like... Read More >